AccScience Publishing / JCAU / Volume 5 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.36922/jcau.0981
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ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE

Learning from the countryside: Designing in Chinese rural-urban areas

Maurizio Meriggi1* Mao Lin2 Xiao Chu3 Kan Chen4
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1 Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DAStU), Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy
2 Department of Environmental Design, School of Design, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
3 Department of Architecture, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
4 Hangzhou Landscape Architecture Design Institute Co., Ltd., Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism 2023, 5(4), 0981 https://doi.org/10.36922/jcau.0981
Submitted: 23 May 2023 | Accepted: 20 September 2023 | Published: 10 November 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reshaping Rural China)
© 2023 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ )
Abstract

The current transformation of the countryside in the rural hinterland of Chinese city regions faces challenges in conserving an extensive architectural and landscape heritage. The villages situated in these regions represent the historical core of metropolitan areas. By examining the hinterland territories, we can readily recognize the features of the Chinese urban-rural continuum that G. W. Skinners has defined in his studies spanning from the 1940s to the 1970s on rural marketing networks, cities, and the hierarchy of the local system. These local systems present a morphology that continually adapts to geographical and cultural contexts, offering rich architectural and rural urbanism solutions that seamlessly harmonize the urban and rural functions. Today, this part of the settlement is extremely vulnerable to the pressure of urban expansion as towns evolve into cities and cities transform into metropolitan regions. The conventional top-down planning practice in these areas lacks innovative tools capable of integrating both “urban” and “rural” features simultaneously. Scholars such as M. Davis and G. Guldin have recognized the Chinese hybrid rural-urban settlement as a potentially “new form of settlement for humanity” (Guldin, 1997). In this article, we present a holistic design approach aimed at shaping this hybrid settlement into a “green city,” applying the model we first used in 2010 – 2013 in Huiyang in the Pearl River Delta, a region characterized by Hakka villages territorial system, to two other cases in city regions: Pidu in the Chengdu metropolitan area and Kandun in the Ningbo metropolitan area. These regions are characterized by their respective Lin Pan and Seawalls territorial systems, which we have more recently studied. The aim of the paper is to illustrate how drawing inspiration from local countryside architecture and rural urbanism enables the development of individual planning solutions as an alternative to the current planning practice in peri-urban rural areas, which tends to homogenize countryside landscapes to urban blocks.

Keywords
Urban-rural continuum
Hybrid landscape
Holistic design approach
Hakka villages architecture
Linpan architecture
Seawalls territory architecture
Funding
The research on the Huiyang case was initially supported by Politecnico di Milano and the Huizhou Municipal Bureau of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in 2010 – 2012. This support was provided through a cooperation agreement signed in 2008 between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Guangdong Province of China. The research on Linpan in the Chengdu Plain was supported by Politecnico di Milano, Southwest Jiaotong University, and the World Heritage International Joint Research Center. This support came through a research cooperation agreement in collaboration with the Pidu district (Chengdu) Linpan Association. In addition, it received support from the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (SWJTU) (Grant number: 2682023WQD011), the Fund for “Art-Engineering Integration” New Interdisciplinary Cultivation (SWJTU) (Grant number: YG20220091), and the Fund for Sichuan Key Research Base of Philosophy and Social Sciences provided by Modern Design and Culture Research Cen
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Conflict of interest
The authors declares no competing interests.
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Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism, Electronic ISSN: 2717-5626 Published by AccScience Publishing